June 22, 2007

Philanthropy in SL

Nearly everyday, another story describes how individuals, businesses, and schools are flocking to the online virtual world, Second Life (SL). After all, almost 7.5 million users spent $1.5 million dollars there in just the past 24 hours! Schools are building virtual campuses, businesses are marketing their products to an alluring audience, and now organizations like the American Cancer Society are sponsoring virtual walkathons to raise awareness and money for a good cause. TechSoup, a group that promotes and supports technology integration by non-profit organizations, has had a presence in-world for quite some time.

Today's New York Times describes how a philanthropic heavyweight has entered the race. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (sound familiar?--think National Public Radio) has teamed up with the University of Southern California to promote philanthropy in Second Life. The university's Center on Public Diplomacy will receive just over half a million dollars to organize events in the virtual world. The foundation reportedly plans to open an office in SL and distribute virtual grants as a way of testing them before awarding actual grants in the "real world."

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